Go For The Goal

But Don’t Lose Sight of Objectives, Strategies and Tactics

The past few months have been busy as we help many of our clients prepare for the start of their fiscal year next month. It’s a more exciting time than ever before because of the proliferation of paid, earned, shared and owned channels available, and increased ease of access to data for measurement. Measurement is irrelevant, however, if you haven’t set goals first. Without objectives, the results don’t matter as much.

It is often difficult to explain the difference between goals and objectives because, for some people, they’re clearly interchangeable. Early in my career I had a great mentor – a fellow PRSA member – who helped me understand the difference.

Goals generally describe what you want to accomplish in the broadest sense. Goals should:

– be broad and not directly measurable.
– be clear and supported by measurable objectives.
– be one of a few.
– give further definition to the organization’s vision.

Objectives are measurable and set targets. Objectives should:

– be realistic and believable.
– logically explain and define how the goal will be met.
– be measurable by quantity, time, cost, percentages, quality or other criteria.

Back in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, George T. Doran introduced the concept of SMART objectives. The acronym SMART can help you to determine the strength of the objectives you include in your plan:

 Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
 Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
 Assignable – specify who will do it.
 Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
 Time-bound – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Strategies describe how you plan to achieve your objectives. Strategies should:

– serve as an approach taken for achieving objectives and resolving specific issues.

Tactics are the specific actions you’ll take. Tactics should:

– be definitions of your strategies.
– be a tool you use in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy.

Here’s a quick example of how these might look for a higher education client:

Goal: Develop and execute integrated marketing and communications programs that help achieve the university’s overall target enrollment of X.

Objective: Increase inquiries from prospective undergraduate students by 30 percent in FY15 as tracked by admissions department.

Strategy: Improve communication with prospective students at key touch points in the recruitment funnel from inquiry through application and ultimately enrollment and financial aid.

Tactic: Audit print and digital communications across all touch points from inquiry to enrollment. Identify opportunities for personalization, consolidation, brand messaging and measurement.

Of course, there are many more elements that should go into an integrated marketing communications plan; this is just a portion of what should be included. There are multiple resources available to help with writing strategic marketing communications plans, including PRSA, AMA and a host of online sites.


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